KESELOWSKI WINS IT FOR MITTLER AND THE MOTHERS
“He’s one of those unsung heroes.” Brad Keselowski said about Mike Mittler, the former NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck series owner who passed away earlier this week after a battle with cancer, after stepping out his car after his win.
Keselowski dedicated his victory at the Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway to Mittler, who gave Keselowski two truck starts back in 2006, and a hard-fought victory it was.
The night started with Kevin Harvick on the pole and Clint Bowyer starting on the front row after some big names like Aric Almirola, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott, and Martin Truex Jr. failed pre-race inspection and had to start from the rear. Harvick went on to lead until the competition caution on lap thirty.
Harvick lost the lead to William Byron and Clint Bowyer after he took four tires to their two. Bowyer got out ahead until Harvick took the lead fifteen laps later. The caution then came out with twenty to go in stage one for Denny Hamlin who had a tire go down in a very similar fashion to last week at Dover. After pit stops, Chase Elliott took the lead only to be passed by Harvick again on his way to winning the stage. The biggest surprise was Chris Buescher who had a strong run up to 6th at the stage end and would go on to finish 5th in stage two and finish tenth overall.
Kurt Busch brought the field to the green for stage two after only taking two tires. Busch led for a few laps until Harvick got back into the lead. Green flag stop started later in the stage with Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr trying to stay out longer to no avail leaving Matt Tifft as the leader. Harvick caught up to Tifft but got held up allowing Chase Elliott to make a risky move between the two of them to get the lead and the eventual stage win over Harvick.
Harvick wins off pit road over Ryan Blaney who only took two tires. After dueling with Blaney for a few laps, Harvick got away as Alex Bowman settled into second. With eighty-eight laps to go, Harvick believed he had a tire going down, as he slowed to get on pit road, Bowman took the lead. Kyle Busch started to hound Bowman for the lead, but he began to pull away.
During green flag pit stops, Ryan Newman’s wheel got loose and rolled into the grass leaving only eight cars on the lead lap as the caution flag waved. Kyle Busch got the lead after a quick pitstop but got penalized after going through too many pit stalls. Restarting with 39 to go Chase Elliott got the lead while Tyler Reddick, in only his second Cup race, was in the top 5. Twenty-eight laps to go and Ryan Blaney blows a tire after smacking the wall a few laps earlier, disrupting the heavy racing between Bowman and Elliott for the lead. On the restart with 23 to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. makes some power moves to grab the lead but gets passed a short while later again by Bowman while Brad Keselowski moved into second. Bowman successfully held off Keselowski for a few laps until lapped traffic held him up and Keselowski pulled away.
With four laps to Matt DiBenedetto blows a motor setting up a green-white-checker flag finish. On the restart, Keselowski quickly pulled away with a big jump while a hard-charging Bowyer got blocked heavily by Erik Jones. Keselowski went on to win the race, his third of the year, over Alex Bowman who got his third straight second-place finish.